News About Drug Use in India and in the Netherlands
The Pot War in the Netherlands
When people think of the Netherlands, they may think of things like tulips and the childhood story Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. Amsterdam, the capital, is often associated with the Anne Frank house but also with its red light district and liberal policy toward pot smoking. However, in April, the U.S. press took note of a new law in the Netherlands that will potentially end “decades of pot tourism to Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.”
A writer for The New York Post said: “The Netherlands is moving toward tighter control of its renowned liberal marijuana policy even as the United States and other nations debate whether to legalize “soft” drugs.” How ironic. Right now the law applies to coffee shops in the south of the country, and other cities must comply by 2013. (Pot is widely sold in coffee shops.) (Dutch citizens were supposed to obtain a weed pass, however, which explains the reference to pot tourism, above. Tourists are the main targets, it seems.) It’s interesting that lawyers are arguing it’s unconstitutional to forbid tourists from these purchases. Of course! The coffee shops stand to lose tons of money.
I looked for a more penetrating article on what’s behind this move, and found this, part of an AP article on CBC News.
“Ironically, the reason the Dutch tolerance policy got going in the 1970s was not on the theory that marijuana was OK — it has always been viewed as a public health problem — but because containing it in shops seemed like a pragmatic way to deal with the problems caused by street dealing.
But a growing body of evidence linking the drug to mental illness and a decade-long shift to the political right in the Netherlands has already led to minor changes in the policy, notably the closure of many shops located near schools or known for causing problems.”
I’d love to see India someday, so it was disheartening to read about drug problems there. Drugs have become a scourge, say two people reporting from India. Opium, which can be refined into heroin, is plentiful. Picture schoolboys eating “black balls of opium paste, with tea, before classes.”
The writers stated that it’s not known how many people are abusing drugs in India, but they believe it’s a large number. They also attribute it to “the demographic risks of a glut of young people.” And, it seems, many are unemployed.
The problem is acute in Punjab, which borders Pakistan. There are private drug treatment centers available, but the writers questioned the qualifications of the people running them. Hospital treatment wards are seeing more and more patients.
The writer also revealed that the government is dependent on alcohol sales for revenue, and consumption has risen almost 60% between 2005 and 2010. In addition, drugstores are profiting from “selling pills and other synthetic drugs to addicts who can’t afford heroin.”
The stories are as sad as you might expect. Children are losing parents to drugs and are being lost to drugs themselves. As one person interviewed said, “In every village, people are falling prey to this drug abuse.”